Valley-Mount Sinai cancer center is only hospital on East Coast with this next-generation technology

ExacTrac Dynamic aims to improve precision of radiation therapy by accounting for continual motion of patient’s anatomy

Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care is now using the newest iteration of ExacTrac Dynamic from Brainlab — a new technology it feels will improve the precision of radiation therapy by accounting for the continual motion of a patient’s anatomy so treatment is delivered with greater accuracy and effectiveness, Valley Hospital announced.

Valley is the only hospital on the East Coast and only the fourth in the nation using this generation of capabilities.

Traditionally, radiation therapy for cancer treatment uses a combination of external markers (such as markers on the skin) and imaging scans to make sure radiation is delivered to the right place inside a patient’s body. This new technology will allow clinicians to be more accurate in delivering treatment by incorporating additional views from both outside and inside a patient’s body. Doctors will be able to see a patient’s shape, temperature, movement and anatomy in real time with the help of high-resolution surface and thermal imaging.

Why does this matter?

Officials at the center said a patient’s internal anatomy is constantly in motion. For example, a patient’s prostate rotates down as the bladder fills. Internal motion can happen quickly, and this new technology gives clinicians the ability to see and account for this motion, avoiding the potential for missing the cancer and overtreating normal tissues.

Dr. Chad DeYoung, co-medical director of radiation oncology at Valley, explained the benefits this way:

“With this technology, we are scanning 300,000 points on the surface of a patient’s body — over 10 times more than other systems — to analyze a patient’s shape, which will improve our treatment precision,” he said. “When we combine that benefit with thermal imaging and the ability to see the inside anatomy, we achieve unparalleled accuracy for virtually every cancer type that we treat.”

Dr. Michael Wesson, the other co-medical director, agreed.

“Giving clinicians an inside view of each patient’s unique anatomy during treatment will have the biggest impact on cancers near areas of the body where breathing or other involuntary movements can affect the position of the radiation beam’s target,” he said. “Such cancers include breast, lung and prostate. It will improve the precision of treatment and minimizes how much radiation normal surrounding tissues receive.”

Dr. Thomas Kole, a radiation oncologist at Valley, provides additional perspective:

“This evolution in technology can account for a patient’s breathing and only delivers treatment when their chest is in the correct position, which avoids damage to healthy tissue,” he said. “As a patient breathes, the treatment will pause until the body returns to the original position.

“Treatments using this technology may be more precise and customized to the patient, allowing us to complete treatments faster. We’ll be able to offer shorter courses of high-dose radiation to those who may not have previously been eligible due to their anatomy.”